Who am I

I was three when I was directly told I was adopted. It was never hid from me. It had been talked about in front of me. But I was three when I was in the back seat of our car when my Mom told me that I did not grow in her tummy like my cousin was growing in my aunt’s tummy.


I was five when a boy came to my preschool to share about his experience living without legs. I was five when I looked at this boy and he handed me a word that helped give rhetoric to what I was already feeling: different.

I was 9 when I asked about my birth. I was turning double digits and wanted to know EXACTLY when I was born. My Mom had to pull out my birth certificate to find out. Because she wasn’t there. She didn’t know.


I was 12 when I first saw a photo of my Birth Mother. The first time I had seen ANYONE who looked like me. TWELVE.


I was 14 when my closed adoption was opened to me. 14 when I was allowed to write a letter to my Birth Mother and ask the question that burned so hot in my very core that it effected my every day life, “who am I?”

I was 17 when I saw them… all lined up in that hallway. A row of people who looked familiar. Who I knew without being told. I knew the second I saw them in the dark hallway lit by candlelight. I recognized my biology out of a crowd without knowing who they were. I had been searching for that familiarity my whole life.

I was 18 when I sat in between my Birth Father and my Birth Mother for the first time since my birth. For the entire hour I just starred. Analyzing and picking apart every physical feature, gesture, movement, breath…. to this very day, 20 years later, when I am with them I still stare and anaylize and try to grasp for any crumb of similarity and familiarity that falls off them so I can piece together, “who am I?”


I was 37 years old when I had to defend my voice as an adoptee. All trauma is valid. I should know. I engage is trauma work daily in practice, research, education, and within my very home and personhood. As an empath, a social worker, a Jesus follower, and a human, I see and hold people’s traumas with sacredness. The pain is not lost on me.


All trauma is valid. But all trauma is different. I spent 18 years without any biological connection. Many adoptees will spend their whole lives with none. Many won’t get the privilege of even knowing their parent’s names. Many fight their country of birth and our country’s state laws set up to protect biological parents which usurps the adoptee’s own worth as a person who just wants to know, “who am I?”


This is why partial adoptees speaking as adoptees, whether you agree with the term or not, is harmful. It usurps and co-opts our very core trauma. It steals the power of our lived experiences. It preys on our personhood and humanity. It silences us.


All trauma is valid. But all trauma is different. There is a place for all of us who have experienced trauma, but we cannot let our unhealed trauma perpetuate more harm. We must be brave and break the cycle.

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